Thursday, 3 June 2010

The history of a scrap of cloth


During a long and interesting chat with Liz from Bermondsey Fayre the subject of a scrap of cloth's history came up.
I was trying to explain to her why it is that I feel so attached to every thing I make.
Its not just the hours of thought that go in to the planning
or the time it takes to make it.
but I can tell you the history of every piece of fabric I use.
I expect that anyone as obsessed as I am by these fragments of life will tell you the same.
Newly bought fabrics from shiney modern shops, their story's have only just begun.
Some become very old friends and we end up with many and varied tales to tell. Their stories so far are mine to tell.

But what really excites me is the untold history.

The untold history of old table cloths,
lovingly hand embroidered by someones Nana in the dim and distant past.
How many family get togethers have they been present at? How many celebrations, rows, joys?

The untold history of a vintage handkerchief, how many emotions has it wiped away, happy, sad, ecstatic. How many cut knees of small children has it been dabbed upon. How many unwanted spit washes to grubby children at the school gates?

The untold history of a vintage dressing gown.
how many lazy sunday mornings has it seen? How many times has it been present at the cooking of a breakfast? Were they for family, friends, lovers?

The old pair of curtains.
Now they really could tell a tale or two!

Did this skirt ever go on a first date?
Was it successful?
Did he ring back as he promised to do?

Then some times the finds go to another level.
like with this hand painted vintage sari.
A wonderful present from professional gadabout and textile designer, Simon Marks
my partner in crime from many a misspent night in fair London town.

Because its so breathtaking, here is a close up of the painting.

Sometimes there is an oddity.
Why were there so many of these pillow cases in the local charity shop?
Still in their original wrappings and untouched by human hand for many a long decade,
Yet in mint condition.
We all have an aged Aunt or Grandmother who hoarded like this.
These pillow cases could have told such stories, but instead their only memories are of a brief stint on the M and S shelves followed by a long time in a cupboard.
And then they came to me!
And boy oh boy do I intend to make up for those long dark years!

I spend hours imagining what these fabrics may have been up to before they met me, weaving some of this imagining in to their new personas as a thing of beauty,
and a joy to be beholden.
I hope most sincerely that this imagining then goes on to bestow its magic in the thing of beauty's new home.

When a fabric is coming to the end of its time with me, the supply is running low and it is irreplaceable, I start to use it more and more sparingly. Cutting it in to smaller and smaller bits, using smaller and smaller scraps in each project,
so that the magic won't end.
And when I have to finally face up to reality and realise the end is the end is the end I always keep a tiny bit of my old friend filed away somewhere
so that i won't forget, even if others did before.

1 comment:

  1. Flamin' Nora Indeed, BLAZING a trail of whip-stitchery!..All looks fab..Agree totally about the history of cloth..Could tell a few tales myself!!

    lol Gadabout xxx

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